Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS)

Languages and Lives in Deaf Communities

Rezenet Moges-Riedel

Assistant Professor at California State University Long Beach (USA)

Rezenet Moges-Riedel is Assistant Professor of American Sign Language and Deaf Culture at California State University Long Beach (USA). She is an expert on D/deaf identity and intersectionality, in particular how D/deaf culture intersects with race and gender in different societies.


Sobering Truths of Deaf Faculty of Color: Audism, Linguicism and Racism but That isn’t All

When Deaf Faculty of Color (DFOC) shared their truth and reasons about their underrepresentation, this paper aims to illuminate their intersectional experiences at predominantly hearing-serving universities and community colleges. While they are underrepresented, their student learning experiences still benefit from their faculty members’ diverse backgrounds, despite all microaggressions and oppressions they have gone through. From the narratives of DFOC, the different types of oppressions are revealed through audism, linguicism and racism.

A proposed of a new standpoint epistemology from two marginalized identities will use Deaf Latinx Critical theory (García-Fernández, 2014, 2020) and its four tenets—intersectionality, ideologies, consciousness, and story-telling—while drawing in DFOC’s narratives about their retention experiences in higher education.  This framework synthesizes each tenet to explore their intersectionality and centralizes their resilience toward possible oppressions from the dominant majority in their workforce.  Thus, when performing this grounded theory method, my study is structured with performative and interpretive practices in a way to make their world visible. 

               Following García-Fernández’s (2014, 2020) Deaf-LatCrit theory in education that evaluates the Deaf epistemology of Latinx people and linguicism, this paper also incorporates the ontology of Deaf People of Color and audism.  In addition, it also addresses the oppression experienced by Deaf bodies from hearing people as acts of superiority.  Multiple themes emerged that revealed the intersectional experiences of the DFOC participants, including their experiences with microaggressions, xenophobia, intersectional issues, and unracialized voice representation. These intersectional experiences present several types of impact: positive contributions, negative factors, and challenging dilemmas created by systemic racism.

It is time for DFOC to be seen and heard in the higher education field and research. The importance of this study is that it provided a rare opportunity to listen to the expressions of DFOC regarding their intersectional and retention experiences at their postsecondary institutions.  This study allowed DFOC to relate their struggles and ambitions regarding continuing teaching and their love for the profession.  For example, Jacqueline commented that she wanted to provide her students with what she did not receive in her own education.  This ambition is an effective and admirable method of breaking the cycle of oppression in critical education and dismantling racial inequity. The data obtained from the DFOC interviews reveal the crucial significance of how their narratives expand the fields of higher education, critical race theories, and racial/ethnic epistemologies by incorporating deaf ontology.  Listening to more stories and lived experiences will contribute further to our understanding of various bodily realities in different spaces.  Thus, DFOC narratives are a pushback for greater inclusion in multiple fields of FOC, Deaf education, and critical race studies.  Finally, the framework of this study re-channeled Deaf Critical Theory to a more POC-centralized grounded theory due to using Deaf LatCrit Theory as a correction and reclamation of what belongs to the community of DPOC.


García-Fernández, C. M. (2014). Deaf-Latina/Latino critical theory in education: The lived experiences and multiple intersecting identities of deaf-Latina/o high school students. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX.


García-Fernández, C. M. (2020). Intersectionality and Autoethnography: DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, Deaf and Hard of Hearing-Latinx Children Are the Future. Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity (JCSCORE), 6(1), 41-67.